Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Sowing the Seeds

The Infamous Jacob's Ladder
I've always enjoyed epic day rides; one of my first ever "proper" mountain bike rides involved being taken to Hope Valley by some way more experienced, fit and skilled friends, immediately riding up Jacob's Ladder and proceeding to ride all day in scorchingly hot weather, getting very lost, attempting to ride down Cave Dale and generally making the day somewhat epic. I've been hopelessly hooked ever since.

My foray into something even approaching dedicated endurance riding was born out of not riding my bike much at all curiously enough. In January 2008 I'd moved house, moved jobs, worked some ridiculous hours at work and spent the time not riding eating junk. I kept telling myself I'd eat less, eat better and ride more "tomorrow" or "when task X was done". The preceding race seaon had ben a disaster; I'd always done a few 24hr races with friends and my lap times were generally respectable. Not so in 2007, my times were horrific, not just in one race, but in all of them. I needed to do something about this. So, on 1st Jan 2008, I promised myself the year of no excuses, shamelessly stealing the plan from my friend, Jo Burt, who had done similar the previous year to recover from injury. I was going to ride to work, off road, the long way, every day. My challenge was to be able to ride all day Saturday and still have legs left to be able to ride on Sunday and enjoy it. To give myself a goal to focus on, in the summer I determined I would ride the South Downs Way, one way, in a day as a culmination of 6 months of hard work. This was a huge goal for me and one that I wasn't sure I could do, but it sounded grand, and I was pretty excited about the challenge. And so it was decided.

As plans went, it was a good one. I stuck to my guns, despite odd looks from my colleagues at work, but they knew about my "odd" bike obsession so tolerated me admirably. When the time finally came, the SDW ride passed in a blur of smiles and sunshine. As I approached the final climb, I leapt out the saddle, keen to finish with the tank empty. I had had a brilliant day outdoors. My time was not only respectable, but much faster than my modest target of under 12 hours. All I could do was think: "Again!", but I had no idea what, until later that year......

But that's another story, so I'll leave you with an image that sums up why I wanted to do the SDW, Mint Sauce's own back yard, in the first place:

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